Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)

B.C. loses court ruling on limiting experts in ICBC injury cases

A-G David Eby says it could cost $400 million a year

One of the B.C. government’s financial reforms for vehicle accident cases has been rejected by the B.C. Supreme Court, a setback that could cost the Insurance Corp. of B.C. as much as $400 million a year.

Attorney General David Eby said Thursday the ruling comes as an unpleasant surprise, since his decision to restrict expert witnesses in vehicle injury cases doesn’t go as far as similar rulings in Australia and the United Kingdom. The rejected change limited expert witnesses and reports to one for “fast-tracked” claims of less than $100,000, and up to three for other cases.

“Given that other jurisdictions, the United Kingdom, Australia, have either outright banned adversarial witnesses or limited them to just one on a matter, why British Columbia couldn’t do three is difficult to understand,” Eby told reporters at the legislature Thursday. “But in any event, we’ll study the decision, we’ll certainly respect the decision of the court, and we’ll either appeal or legislate, or do what we can to make sure that we address this issue, which doesn’t go away just because of this decision.”

RELATED: B.C. limits ‘duelling experts’ in ICBC injury cases

RELATED: New drivers pay most for optional insurance, Eby says

With its cap on “pain and suffering” awards, an alternative dispute system to keep smaller cases out of court and an overhaul of rates to charge higher-risk drivers more, Eby said ICBC was on track to break even or have a small deficit this year after two years of billion-dollar losses.

In a challenge brought by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C., Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled that the restriction on expert witnesses “infringes on the court’s jurisdiction to control its process, because it restricts a core function of the court to decide a case fairly upon the evidence adduced by the parties.”

Hinkson also rejected the idea that the court could appoint experts, within the same limit of three per side. He described the whole concept of restricting witnesses as unconstitutional.

In question period at the B.C. legislature, B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong demanded to know whether the decision means even higher ICBC insurance rates.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said Eby’s performance on ICBC merits his replacement as minister responsible.

“David Eby’s tinkering with ICBC has not only cost British Columbians more for auto insurance, but it also just blew a $400 million hole in John Horgan’s budget.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Water levels in Cowichan Lake high after recent wet weather

Snow pack in local mountains also looking good

VIDEO: Hear sultry jazz songstress Laila Biali in speakeasy setting in Cowichan

Cabaret Series at Cowichan Theatre closes its 2019/20 season with super show

Baby bear carving stolen from his family in Chemainus

Thief repeatedly kicked it and dislodged it from cement and rebar

Gas leak prompts mop-up response in Chemainus

Thorough check made of Croft Place before residents and business people return

Furstenau announces bid for leadership of the BC Green Party

Cowichan Valley MLA says B.C. needs new style of leadership

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read